Police seek attackers on rubber protest activists’ residences

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PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN, Nov 1 – Police here set a manhunt into motion for assailants who fired gunshots and grenades at the homes of four rubber demonstration leaders on Petchkasem Road here early today.

Prachuap Khiri Khan governor Vira Sriwatanatrakul said police inspected the houses which were damaged by gunfire. There were no injuries.

He expressed concern that the attacks would lead to a longer demonstration by rubber farmers who have blocked Petchkasem Road – the main land link between central Thailand (including the capital) and the South – since last week.

The farmers said they wanted the government to pledge rubber price at Bt100/kg – a demand categorically rejected by the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry which stood firm that it could not interfere in the marketing system.

Somchai Bunyaputi, coordinator of the rubber farmer network, said he saw two cars passing his residence early this morning after which bullets were fired at his home in Bang Saphan district.

Pichai Kaewniam, owner of a car maintenance garage who jointly led the protest, said his car and the roof of his house were damaged by M-79 grenades.

Tirapong Kaewnuan, another key leader, said three shots hit the front door of his house but no one was injured.

They believed the attacks were linked to their protest on Petchkasem Road.